Tag Archives: gay marriage

Post-Same Sex Marriage: Why are Some Gay People Mad?

Marriage equality protest in D.C. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

Marriage equality protest in D.C. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition,” said President Barak Obama at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner in 2011. Seated in the audience were a number of Black gay men, including LZ Granderson, senior writer for ESPN magazine; Alvin McEwen, contributor to The Huffington Post; Justin Stewart, producer for WJLA-ABC 7 News; and Michael Crawford, Digital Director of the Freedom to Marry campaign. Some of them applauded, while others choose not to after the president’s statement. Even though, they all were concerned about the possibility of marriage for all, none of them thought they’d see it during their lifetime.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The unprecedented decision was a period at the end of a forty-six year old sentence, which started when patrons at a gay bar rallied after a police raid.

So what does the ruling mean for Black gay men?

Same-sex couples can now apply for veteran’s benefits and Social Security. The Social Security Administration issued a statement encouraging “spouses, divorced spouses, or surviving spouses of a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationship” to apply for benefits right away.

According to Kathleen Michon, a lawyer, “ a surviving spouse of a worker entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits may be entitled to receive retirement benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earning record.”

Michon added, “for retired married couples, a person whose calculated Social Security benefit is lower than that of his or her spouse may take half of his or her spouse’s higher benefit, rather than receive the amount calculated from his own earnings.”

Other benefits that same-sex couples can benefit from include: tax benefits, estate tax and estate planning, immigration benefits, education benefits, and federal employment benefits. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Written Word

the empty seat at the table

Lina Jaros Series titled “Beyond the Walls”

i looked at my cell phone. mom called. i didn’t hear the phone ring. i purposely set the ringer to silent. hearing merry Christmas or happy anything makes me a bundle of nerves. the holidays remind me of family. i try to distance my family to keep the unspoken things between us unspoken. how do you articulate mom i’m gay over the Christmas turkey. mom that’s why i have never brought a woman home for the holidays. holidays are too awkward as a gay black man. there’s always an empty seat at the table.

i tend to disappear around the holidays. they remind me how lonely gay life can be. the longest relationship i’ve had lasted one year. we were young and thought we loved each other. i think we loved the idea of being intimate more. relationship building was a foreign language to me.

my dislike for holidays started in 99. my boyfriend and i were in college in atlanta. we were inseparable. i was supposed to spend the holiday with my family. i decided to spend time with my boyfriend instead. he had an apartment off-campus near lenox mall. i remember calling my grandmother saying that i would call her on Christmas eve. i didn’t call her. i didn’t call on Christmas either. i called the day after Christmas. i said i would call her the next day. i didn’t. i stayed at my boyfriend’s apartment until new years day. we watched the countdown on TV drinking Asti Spumanti champagne (I threw the cork and label away two years ago) and fell asleep on his fire engine red sofa bed. i caught the marta and bus to my grandmother’s house in stone mountain. the garage door was open, which wasn’t strange. i saw grandma on the cordless phone talking. she looked upset like she was crying. she was crying. she looked up at me, jumped up, and gave me a big hug. i thought someone had died. she thought i had died or something tragic happened to me because i didn’t call her. that stayed with me for a long time.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Written Word

the great debaters

West face of the United States Supreme Court b...

Image via Wikipedia

put me in front of a group of people and i start to shake. my hands were shaking on stage, literally. i had to put my note cards down. i saw terror in myself. then i remembered – breathe. i rehearsed at home. breathe. i rehearsed on the way to the office. breathe. breathe victor, i told myself. i didn’t need to look at my notes after that. an hour later i had the migraine of migraines. i laid down around 9. my cell phone rang. it was mr. egyptian wannabe. mr. egyptian wannabe lives in new york. people always have to guess what his ethnicity is.

so you aren’t watching the debate, he said. i’m in pain, i said. don’t tell anyone that, he said. i got up, went to cnn.com, and clicked on the live broadcast.

i wasn’t interested in watching this debate. the vice presidential debate was more worth watching to me. the highlight of the show was when the facilitator, gwen ifill asked senator biden:

Do you support, as they do in Alaska, giving same-sex benefits to couples?

biden said: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted — same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That’s only fair.

It’s what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

i was running on the treadmill. i had to slow down. i started crying. sometimes my friends make fun of me for being so unemotional about things. this was big. it was like a thousand champagne bottles popping all at once.

Then ifill asked senator biden:

Do you support gay marriage?

biden said: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I’m glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that’s the case, we really don’t have a difference.

breathe, i told myself. i don’t shape my life around washington, around politics, around speeches, around the things speak say. i shape my life around my own experiences, my own ideas, what i know is true.

what does marriage represent? does marriage represent love? does it represent happy ever after? does it represent commitment? marriage is a ceremony that can be held at city hall for $25. how can you put a value on love. little boys, most little boys anyway, don’t grow up dreaming to get married. at twenty-coughs, do i want to get married? i don’t know. a marriage ceremony, a marriage license, a preacher, the works, wouldn’t change the way i felt about my partner but i would like to have a choice.

i was reminded what spanish prime minister jose luis rodriguez zapatero said during his state of the nation address:

I will never understand those who proclaim love as the foundation of life, while denying so radically protection, understanding and affection to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues. What kind of love is this that excludes those who experience their sexuality in a different way?

in reference to roe vs. wade, last night obama said:

…I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on. But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum…

…So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.

I’ll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.

For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it’s taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn’t know about it until fairly recently.

We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.

equal pay. a woman’s choice. supreme court nominee. what has to happen for the gay marriage debate to get equal billing?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Written Word

An imitation of an imitation that’s broken

City Bus

I waited about fifteen minutes. Sweat dripped down my lower back to my shorts. The driver mumbled hello under his breath. He looked like he’d been left out in the rain all night. Pale, bloated face, wrinkles creasing the corners of his eyes and pot-bellied. The seats in front were filled. Normally, I sit in front.

A man grilled an even tempered woman behind me. Her southern accent was heavy. She was either from Georgia or Florida. So do they want you to join the program, the man asked her. They only have room for me if I get a job by Friday, the woman said. She had four days. They want you to join the program. Only if I get a job, she said even tempered. I was annoyed. Why. I don’t fit their criteria for the drug abuse program. They only have room for case management.

The bus sped up approaching the bridge. I see two skinny Asian guys sitting in the front two seats. Two Asian guys behind them. The Asian sitting in the front seat, with a buzz cut, he turns around, peeping over his shoulder at the Asian to his left. He’s talking on his cell phone. His hair is jet black, low on the sides, and thicker, bushier at the top, and uneven. A Super Cuts creation I’m sure. I had a bad experience with them. I started shaving my head bald after that. The Asian sitting next to him, his long jet black hair is pulled back in a pony tail. He has on a tight fitted gray shirt. His shoulders are broad.

They only have room for me if I get a job, the even tempered woman says again. I don’t fit the criteria. I’m not in the drug abuse program. If I get a job they’ll put me in the case management program. They can’t keep me if I don’t. Because they want to $5 a week, the man says. No. Because I’m not eligible to be there. They don’t have room for me. Unless I get a job.

The bus isn’t moving fast enough.

The Asian guy on the cell phone closes his phone. He glances over at me at the same time I look in his direction. He’s Mexican not Asian. The guy sitting beside him looks back. He’s Mexican too. He turns back around and leans over looking for a street sign or a landmark. They both careen their necks out looking down the street out the front og the bus.

It’s a chapel, a man says beside me in a deep voice. He’s talking to the even tempered woman and the man grilling her. I turn. He’s black. Oh, the man grilling the woman says. We’re going to get married someday. Oh yeah, the black man says. Yeah. Hopefully, the woman says as if exhausted. But in water. In water, the black man laughs. He pushes air out the back of his tongue. An imitation of someone talking under water. The man grilling the woman imitates him. They both laugh. No. On a boat. A steam boat, the woman says. Oh, the black man says through laughing. I smile too. Will I get married someday?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Written Word